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Elle Decor: Just say ‘no’ to NAMBLA

Elle Decor features designer who shows off art displays of man-boy “love”.

In case you’re unclear: this is wrong.v
When the recession hit our house in wave after wave, nearly all resources were diverted to food, housing, tuition and transportation. Hiring people to fix or do things for us went out the window–bye shoe repairman, see ya window cleaner guy! Meat was mostly out and bean soup was in. Entertaining others in our home went practically extinct and, it goes without saying, entertainment ended.

New clothes? You’re kidding, right? Is it on sale? At Target? Magazine subscriptions were canceled. I love you, Economist, but I’ll have to try to make up for your reportage with online sources and occasional hard copies from the newsstand.

This (granted, first-world) want has made each item of luxury I afford myself–magazines in this case–deeply and humbly appreciated. Resources to buy those magazines are carefully and lovingly considered. So, with all of this in mind, I made a conscious decision to keep the three magazines I loved the most. They are magazines that combine beauty and luxury with the everyday need of eating and dwelling.

Architectural Digest is stacked in my house the way people of a different era revered National Geographic magazines. When we moved again to California in the early 2000’s I sold all my old copies at our garage sale. I vowed never to do it again.

This magazine is the nexus of celebrity, style and photography.

I need to have, as I call it, ‘pretty pictures to look at’–even in an economic depression. I take photographs. I’ve had a few published. I care about the look of a magazine. The point of AD has always been its photography and the inspirational ads “to the trade” which means you can never buy that $6,500.00 ostrich ottoman unless you buy it from an ASID designer. Sigh.

I appreciate how the photographers open their shutters long enough to obscure the fact the roaring fire is actually just a piece of paper set aflame for this one shot. Are there blues more vivid than on the pages of Architectural Digest? Pools, ponds, the Mediterranean are always so blue. As a photographer I’m savvy to filters, but how do these photogs always get the clearest, bluest shot? How long did they wait for that perfect shadow? As long as it takes, that’s how long.

Another purpose of AD also seems to be featuring homes that are about ready to go on the market. The notoriously private Don Imus allowed his weekend home filled with Gustavian furnishings to be splayed on the pages of AD. Why? He and his wife were teeing it up to sell. And, well, an AD spread helps get the word around.

Saveur Magazine is filled with rich, textured photos of exquisitely prepared fresh vegetables and staples from places around the world. Their photographers go to 10,000 foot high villages to take photos of bandanna wearing camp cooks who have never heard of All Clad pans and Wusthof knives and who, with their gnarled hands, wield their one tin pan with the expertise of James Beard– and feed the hordes.

The magazine devotes all its resources to produce entire issues devoted to one ingredient. Tomatoes. Ah, the tomato issue will go down as one of my favorites. The pages of my copy are spattered with olio and balsamico.

Saveur showed me how to cook a steak. My husband couldn’t do that. My dad couldn’t do that.

Catch up with food trends and buy anything foodie related by simply perusing the ads in the back. Do you dream of going to Italy to cook with a woman who insists you call her Nonna? Nonna’s ad is in the back of Saveur.

My husband picks up the mail at our PO Box and, in what has become a monthly ritual, delivers to me my coveted magazines.

Clearing his throat and affecting a butler-like esthetic, he intones, “Here is your Sav-uh.”

“It’s pronounced Sav-oor.”

“Here is your Sav-oor.”

More throat clearing. “Here is your Architectural Digest.”

Looking at his pile of mail again, he picks up another magazine and, Mufasa-like, holds it up and announces, “Here is your Elle–it’s el, not elly, right?–Decor.”

“Oh, goodie!” I receive it eagerly in my outstretched hands.

I’ve made friends with this magazine over the years. It’s less self important and is more approachable Architectural Digest. The magazine is pretty enough to look at with a more hip feel. I like the features such as designers revealing their ten favorite tables, chairs, lamps etc., and the ads, which feature stuff I actually may be able to afford.

Instead of featuring the New York/Long Island/Connecticut/ home of a some unnamed literary agent and his/her hedge fund hubby, as AD seems fond of doing, Elle Decor shows you the family that actually owns the home in Muncie, Indiana. They feature the occasional designed-to-the-nines pied a terre in Paris to be sure, but there’s more Muncie and less snoot.

Today as I luxuriated in my nest with–at long last–my July/August version of Elle Decor, I perused the piece on the rural New York estate of Benoist Drut, a Greenwich Village arts and antiques shop owner who moved to New York from Paris. I loved some of his ideas for closets and kitchens. I noted his use of a bench by an artist he features at his shop. Cool stuff. But it became clear very soon we weren’t in Muncie anymore.

As you’ve surmised, I like images and fine art and always check out the art on the walls of the homes featured in magazines. In this spread I didn’t see any art showing the female form while there were several male images. Stop the presses, I yawned, he’s gay. Got it.

The interior is described by Elle Decor as, “equally idiosyncratic and intoxicating” — and indeed it was–but my instincts were heightened by the painting of a shirtless underage boy holding a rooster. Who features the painting of a shirtless boy? Is it him when he was young? A turn of the page seemed to confirm my creeping suspicions. Over his bed in the master bedroom was a portrait of a man and boy, both shirtless.

When a mag uses this art it’s time to say no. #NAMBLA by Victoria Taft

The photograph was a homoerotic man-boy-love portrait by Israeli artist Avi Nes. On the pages of a mass appeal design magazine. Now you can stop the presses.

His wiki page tells the story, “Nes’ early work has been characterized as subverting the stereotype of the masculine Israeli man by using homoeroticism and sleeping, vulnerable figures.” And he further explains,

“My staged photographs are oversized and often recall well-known scenes from Art History and Western Civilization combined with personal experiences based on my life as a gay youth growing up in a small town on the periphery of Israeli society.” [emphasis mine]

He is best known for his Last Supper tableau using Israeli soldiers as Jesus and his Disciples. He loves soldiers. Especially shirtless ones.

Was Nes — or Drut for that matter — predated upon as a young boy? Is this their story? Good Lord, I hope not. Even if it is, they, more than anyone, would know it’s wrong to normalize or glorify child abuse in a portrait. In case you missed it, sex with children is a crime.

But here is this provocative image. Over the bed. In his bedroom. Ew.

Maybe Drut owns the portrait. More likely he went to the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, where Nes’ works currently are on exhibition, where they gladly loaned it to him for a national magazine photo shoot. Elle Decor put it in their magazine. And we’re supposed to think nothing of it? This should be acceptable because it’s art? Full stop.

While people are routinely locked up for predating on children, the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) celebrates it. NAMBLA calls erotic activity between men and boys “intergenerational relationships.” The group’s unofficial motto is, “Sex before eight or it’s too late.” It claims those who find the activity morally repugnant “deny the expression of mutually felt love and affection” and are inventing “harm where there is none.”

…as if children could consent…

The group has stepped up its efforts to normalize the behavior, they say, after the successful way in which gays have attached the word “marriage” to same sex unions and forced support of said unions by suing bakers and photographers.

The gay activists have pivoted the issue from a moral one to an issue of fairness. Desiring the same fairness, NAMBLA and acolytes agitate for the day when their form of “love” is acceptable and protected by law. (You can look it up yourself. I won’t link to NAMBLA here.)

The upshot is, this magazine that I have lovingly collected over the years has now become complicit in attempting to normalize sex between children and adults. That was the point of the photo. That was the point of placing the photo over the bed. And that was likely the point by Elle Decor.

Apologize to children and their parents. Then never do it again.

*Since I wrote this post a year and a half ago Elle Decor has sent a continual barrage of notices telling me I owe them money. I don’t, of course. A new ‘Final Notice’ appears in my mail box every couple of weeks or so.

And something else has happened. I’ve now seen two letters to the editor in Architectural Digest complaining of similar art shown on the pages of that magazine. I can’t speak for Elle Decor. I don’t receive it anymore. Cancelled. I haven’t seen the offending art in Architectural Digest, but if/when I do, I’ll cut it off, too.

I’d like to think, however, this piece has begun a public conversation that should have started — and ended — in the editors offices years ago.

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